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Revolutionary Ideas Since 1708
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We are so excited you are looking into our volunteer opportunities! Here are some frequently asked questions that may help you: PLEASE NOTE: During these difficult times with COVID-19 (coronavirus) all in-person events and meetings are currently being reviewed. We are running an e-recruitment and e-training programme for volunteers: please see Currently Recruiting for information. Can I volunteer during the pandemic? Yes. Although you won’t be ab...
Picturing Mary Wollstonecraft
Who was Mary Wollstonecraft? One of the best ways to find out is to look at the portraits artists have painted of her. Perhaps the most influential portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft was painted by John Opie in 1797, the last year of her life, when she was pregnant with her daughter, Mary Shelley. Opie has depicted her half turned away from him, as if engaged with her own thoughts rather than with the artist. He has not idealised her. She wears a pl...
What does the controversy around A Sculpture for Mary Wollstonecraft tell us about Mary Wollstonecraft’s intellectual legacy?
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was a writer, philosopher and feminist thinker. She is perhaps best known for writing A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), considered a key early feminist work. Wollstonecraft is one of the most notable figures associated with Newington Green Meeting House , as living and working in the local area gave her connections to members of the meeting house, such as Richard Price. Although there have been ongoing e...
Joseph Priestley – A Brief Introduction
The website of the Newington Green Meeting House lists one Joseph Priestley amongst the intellectual friends of the influential Richard Price: in fact, it was he who preached the sermon on the occasion of Price’s funeral, and succeeded to his ministry at the Gravel Pit Chapel. Priestley was a major figure of the British Enlightenment1 and a notable polymath… Remembered today primarily for his isolation and identification of seven gases, including...
John Polidari and the Vampires
...David Walter I loved this article, it's very informative and it was fun and engaging to read. I never knew how connected to the contribution of world culture, Newington Green Unitarian Church has been....
John Howard and Prison Reform
What should change to the criminal justice system look like now? John Howard (1726-1790) was a prominent 18th century intellectual and prison reform campaigner. (refer to figure one) His connection to Newington Green Meeting House stems from his friendships with Richard Price, whom he lived close to when he lived in Bedford, and John Aikin, the brother of Anna Laetitia Barbauld. Although, Anna Laetitia was engaged to someone else Howard still pro...
William Ellery Channing and Matilda Sharpe’s Girls’ School
Matilda Sharpe (1830-1916) William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) Matilda Sharpe (1830-1916) William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) Matilda Sharpe was a member of the congregation of the Unitarian Chapel on Newington Green. She was also the founder of Channing School for girls in Highgate in 1885. She named the school after William Ellery Channing, a New England Unitarian preacher whose writings on education had inspired her. Channing had what we would...
Andrew Pritchard and Infusoria
Have you ever wondered what the ‘Infusoria’ are? Maybe you have also wondered how Andrew Pritchard, a man so beautifully commemorated in this plaque on the wall of the Meeting House, was and why he wrote of their History? (refer to Figure one) The term itself – Infusoria – is now obsolete but its use is first dated back to 1763. Therefore, its history is firmly rooted in the early days of both microscopy and taxonomy, the discipline of naming, de...
Before the Vote
Hackney’s early feminists on Education, Social Reform and the Right to Vote From fighting for equal access to education to the right to vote, Hackney’s women battled to ensure the future female generations of East London had access to the opportunities they were not granted. This blog will provide a broad outline of the stories and movements of Hackney’s feminists from the 1600s to the beginning of the 1900s and how their revolutionary ideas and...
Charles Bradlaugh: Freethinker, Activist, Republican
Born in Hoxton, on 26th September 1833, Charles Bradlaugh was an atheist, supporter of universal suffrage, a secularist, promoter of trade unions and a political activist. As president of the National Secular Society and editor of the secularist paper, the National Reformer, Bradlaugh promoted and gained supporters of his view that religion should be separated from the state. In 1876, Bradlaugh and his close confidant Annie Besant, a women’s righ...
We aim to make this website accessible to everyone. Below we describe the standards and techniques we have used to achieve this. If you have any questions or suggestions or problems regarding the accessibility of this website, please do not hesitate to contact us. We hope to continually improve the use of the site for all of our visitors. The website is constantly evolving, and will be considerably expanded and refined in the coming years. Transl...
Dissenting Academies and the Green
Please select the link for an audio version: https://soundcloud.com/amy-todd-813925058/dissenting-academies-on-newington-green Dissenting academies were founded in the second half of the 17 th century as a response to the passing of the ‘Act of Uniformity’ (1662), that required Anglican ordination for all clergy. Ministers of the church who disagreed with the tenets of Anglicanism were debarred from the clergy and consequently many found themselv...
The story of Matilda Sharpe
Courtesy of Channing School Archive I know about Matilda Sharpe because she was the woman who, along with her sister Emily, founded Channing School in Highgate where I taught for 16 happy years. The school was originally intended for the daughters of Unitarian ministers but is now open to girls from every religion or none. There were still echoes of Matilda Sharpe around the school when I worked there. For instance, her aspirational motto (also...
Lady Mary Abney
Lady Mary Abney née Gunston (1676-1750) is best known for the unstinting support she gave to the hymnologist, Isaac Watts (1674-1748). Her non-conformist views were well suited to life in Stoke Newington where so many other like-minded people lived. In her home in Abney House she gave a permanent home to Watts, associated with leading non-conformists and laid out the grounds of what is now Abney Park Cemetery with wide avenues of Elm trees. Lady...
Anna Laetitia Barbauld in Stoke Newington
Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825) is remembered chiefly as a ‘poet and writer’. Her output covered a wide range of literary forms: she wrote essays, poems, edited works of fiction, produced literary criticism and wrote poems for children. (1) Some of her best know works were inspired by progressive causes, such as her “Epistle to William Wilberforce, esq. … on the Rejection of the Bill for Abolishing the Slave Trade.” In which she castigated the...
Celebrating Mary's Birthday - Monday 27th April
Now the celebrations are over (and what a day it was!) this page holds all the resources and materials you can use to learn more about Mary, Newington Green and the Dissenters all year round. We are still celebrating Mary’s birthday this year, although as you may have seen we will be postponing the Mary Wollstonecraft and Dissent: A Celebration event at the Newington Green Meeting House until April 2021. This year we will be celebrating online an...
Newington Green Meeting House: Revolutionary Ideas - project update
It was very disappointing not be able to re-open the Meeting House in April and enjoy the celebrations and programme planned and developed for such a long time. The team have still been working hard in the face of adversity on the project, here is an update on progress and amended plans for the Newington Green and New Unity communities, and our partners and supporters. Easter should have seen the re-opening of the Meeting House building, open to...
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Sophia Dobson Collet - a woman of the world
Please select the link for an audio version: https://soundcloud.com/amy-todd-813925058/sophia-dobson-collet-a-woman-of-the-world In June 1894 a seven-page obituary of English religious liberal, feminist and writer Sophia Dobson Collet (1822-1894) appeared in the Bengali-language Journal for the Enlightenment of Women [Bamabodhini Patrika ]. It eulogised her as ‘India’s dearest friend and well-wisher’. Sophia is little known today. Thanks to the e...
Slave Owners and Hackney
On the 7th June, those protesting as part of the Black Lives Matter movement in Bristol pulled down and dumped the statue Edward Colston, a prolific slave trader, into their harbor . A moment which sparked a conversation on the legacy of British colonialism and how slavery is remembered, both in our education system and via the statues that many of us uncritically pass on a daily basis. This is a debate which has many standpoints, such as those w...
The Meeting House's architecture
The original Meeting House was built in the Queen Anne style in 1708. Wikipedia notes that it was “too plain for [Mary] Wollstonecraft’s Anglican tastes”. This ‘plain’ building was substantially extended and improved in the mid-19th century to accommodate a growing congregation. At this time, “an internal gallery was built to increase the seating available, and a few years later the roof and apse were renewed” . The internal work, that expanded t...
Update from the project
Hello all – I have found myself recently explaining what we are busy doing at the moment during the pandemic and often to find it hard to explain it all concisely! After a slow start and getting our heads round new working practices and the furloughing of many colleagues at New Unity – we are now getting stuck in with this new online world of engagement. Here are some of the things we are working on, some of these projects are in collaboration wi...
The Battle of Ridley Road
During World War Two many Jews began to migrate from the cramped ghettos of the East End and Dockland areas along the Thames, a frequent target zone during the Blitz, to North and North East London. Settling in areas such as Stamford Hill, Dalston and Stoke Newington and as such the Jewish community in Hackney grew, making these communities prime targets during the fascist resurgence after World War Two. Ridley Road and the larger area was a l...
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